green car sales

Last month, Toyota pitched its hybrid vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show by partnering with Hasbro to make a Monopoly-inspired road course inside McCormick Center's South Hall.

The concept proved prescient as the Japanese automaker appeared to further dominate competitors such as Ford and Honda when it came to U.S. hybrid sales last month. Toyota, which appeared to benefit from both rising U.S. gas prices and what was likely pent-up demand for hybrids that were supply-constrained last year, increased February hybrid vehicle sales by a whopping 60 percent from a year earlier to 27,458 vehicles. Prius sales jumped 52 percent from February 2011 to 20,589 vehicles while the Toyota-branded non-Prius hybrid vehicle sales grew even faster, at an 81 percent clip. The company didn't break out sales figures for its other hybrid models, but with Toyota reporting an overall Camry sales increase of 22 percent, the newly redesigned Camry Hybrid was likely a major factor.

Additionally, Toyota's Lexus division doubled February sales from a year earlier to 2,645 vehicles, with the newer Lexus CT 200h most likely making an impact on those numbers.

Toyota's competitors weren't so fortunate.

Toyota's competitors weren't so fortunate, however, as Ford and Honda buyers appeared to opt for fuel-efficient conventionally powered vehicles over hybrids in an effort to save gas and money. Ford's February hybrid sales dropped 24 percent from a year earlier to, 1,963 units, with the small increase in Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales more than offset by a 20-percent drop in Ford Fusion Hybrid sales and a 45-percent decline in Ford Escape Hybrid sales. Such results contrasted with Ford's overall performance last month, as vehicle sales rose 14 percent from a year earlier. Ford, which more than doubled unit sales of its fuel-efficient Focus, is hoping for a boost in its alt-fuel demand from the soon-to-debut Ford Focus Electric. That vehicle was just given an EPA rating of 105 miles per gallon equivalent, making it officially more efficient than both the Nissan Leaf battery-electric and the upcoming Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

As bad as Ford fared in hybrid sales last month, Honda fared worse. The Japanese automaker's hybrid sales plunged 41 percent from a year earlier to 1,981 vehicles. While Civic Hybrid sales were up 39 percent, CR-Z and Insight sales both dropped at least 55 percent from February 2011.

Whether the Volt sustains its momentum remains to be seen.

As for electric-drive vehicles, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in vehicle beat out the Leaf in February sales, with the Volt moving 1,023 vehicles – more than tripling February 2011 sales – and Nissan selling 478 Leafs, a sevenfold increase from a year earlier. Whether the Volt sustains its momentum remains to be seen, as General Motors is halting Volt production for five weeks in order for dealers to get some of the plug-ins off of their lots.

With U.S. gas prices jumping about 20 cents a gallon last month to $3.74, Volkswagen boosted its sales of its more fuel-efficient diesel-powered models by 55 percent from a year earlier to 6,513 vehicles. Audi, however, reported a 26 percent drop in its diesel vehicle sales from February 2011 to 390 vehicles.

Finally, Mitsubishi, which debuted its i battery-electric vehicle in the U.S. late last year, moved 44 units, up from 36 in January. See a chart of all these number after the jump.

COMPANY Vol% Feb. 2012 Feb. 2011 Vol% YTD2012 YTD2011
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Ford Escape Hybrid -45.41% 434 795 -40.76% 779 1,315
Ford Fusion Hybrid -19.51% 1,110 1,379 -26.70% 1,721 2,348
Lincoln MKZ 6.08% 419 395 -12.16% 672 765
TOTAL -23.59% 1,963 2,569 -28.36% 3,172 4,428
VOLKSWAGEN
Volkswagen Diesels 54.83% 6,513 4,206 43.34% 11,302 7,884
GENERAL MOTORS
Chevrolet Volt 264.06% 1,023 281 170.10% 1,626 602
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA
Nissan Leaf 613.43% 478 67 649.35% 1,154 154
AUDI
A3 TDI 37.41% 253 184 -1.51% 646 656
Q7 TDI -60.06% 137 343 -31.54% 447 653
TOTAL -26.02% 390 527 -16.49% 1093 1309
TOYOTA
Toyota Prius 52.07% 20,589 13,539 32.97% 32,144 24,174
All other Toyota hybrids 80.62% 4,224 2,339 68.50% 7,311 4,339
Lexus Hybrids 107.80% 2,645 1,273 84.45% 4,608 2,498
TOTAL 60.10% 27,458 17,151 42.09% 44,063 31,011
MITSUBISHI
Mitsubishi i na 44 0 na 80 -
PORSCHE
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid -3.52% 137 142 -21.70% 249 318
Porsche Panamera Hybrid na 34 0 na 73 0
TOTAL 20.42% 171 142 1.26% 322 318
AMERICAN HONDA
Honda Accord Hybrid na - - na - -
Honda Civic Hybrid 39.29% 741 532 0.42% 1,190 1,185
Honda CR-Z -57.29% 466 1,091 -58.24% 829 1,985
Honda Insight -55.11% 773 1,722 -61.39% 1,265 3,276
TOTAL -40.81% 1,980 3,345 -49.05% 3,284 6,446